The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission on Saturday honored the accomplishments of 18 courageous men and women graduating from the 12-month residential drug and alcohol treatment program.
Kristian Anfuso spoke for the graduating class and shared his personal story of recovery.
Anfuso’s parents divorced when he was 5, and he and his brother went to live with his father on a Hare Krishna farm.
“I never really fit in anywhere we moved to because my dad made us look and dress like Hare Krishnas, and my experiences left me full of fear, anger, resentment and confusion,” Anfuso said. “I didn’t even start first grade until I was 9, so all of these things combined caused other kids to excessively pick on and make fun of us, which resulted in my constantly getting into fights, getting kicked out of school and in trouble with the law.”
Anfuso’s drug use left him out of money and homeless in Isla Vista. He was arrested and in jail once again. This time he requested an opportunity to recover at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.
“I really wanted to change my life but was out of ideas and had nowhere else to go,” he recalled.
He was given an opportunity to invest in the mission’s 12-month residential treatment program instead of serving a one-year sentence in the county jail.
“There is a night and day difference that has happened to me, and I now have a peace I have never known before and hope for my future,” Anfuso said.
The graduating class received certificates of recognition from Assemblyman Das Williams. Emanuel Lutheran Church, 3721 Modoc Road in Santa Barbara, hosted the graduation and provided Bibles to each one of the graduates..
— Rebecca Weber is the director of communications and constituent relations for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.